We knew the Rays were going to take a step back defensively when they signed Johnny Damon to replace Gold Glover Carl Crawford in left field. Unfortunately for Rays fans, the difference became pretty clear during yesterday’s Opening Day loss to Orioles.
Damon sprinted to catch up with a ball that was hit to the left center field gap by Brian Roberts in the top of the fifth inning. He went into a slide and then tried to transfer the ball to center fielder B.J. Upton, but let’s just say that didn’t work out too well. It went for a two-run triple.
As Damon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the play was bizarrely reminiscent of the time Manny Ramirez infamously cut off Damon’s throw at Fenway Park.
“We were trying to do that triple cutoff man again,” Damon said. “Manny’s not out there, so I thought I would try it with B.J.”
Hey, at least Damon has a sense of humor about the whole thing. Have to give him credit for that.
You can watch the play here or just keep reliving it in GIF form. It has no doubt affected my productivity this morning.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.